Integrating women into combat will eventually force lawmakers to have an "emotional discussion and debate" about whether women should also be part of the draft, the Army secretary said Monday.
John McHugh said it's still too early to discuss whether women should have to sign up for the Selective Service as men have. But, as the military drives toward a Jan. 1 deadline to open some or all combat positions to women, McHugh acknowledged the country will need to have the conversation if women have the same opportunities in the military as men.
"If your objective is true and pure equality, then you have to look at all aspects and at some point Selective Service will have to be one of those things considered very carefully," McHugh said on the first day of the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting in Washington.
The three service secretaries submitted their recommendations to Defense Secretary Ash Carter this month on whether any positions should remain closed to women. The Navy secretary did not request any exemptions for the Navy or Marine Corps, but it's unclear what recommendations the other services made.
Carter is expected to make a final decision on which, if any, positions will remain closed by Jan. 1 after hearing input from top service leaders.
McHugh noted that a change requiring women to sign up for the draft would have to come from Capitol Hill, not the Defense Department or individual services.